First up is the Associated Press app. What's interesting here is that the AP app developers are hewing very closely to the UI paradigms of WP7S with a multi-panel system that lets you jump through various news stories and topics. Joe Belfiore touted the ability to view photos and video (utilizing some pretty slick animations) and also showed off breaking news alerts which allow you to jump to news stories as they break. We also saw a sneak preview of the monetization scheme for the AP, an animated, fly-over Ford ad that was actually a little troubling -- think annoying Flash ads... but in your apps and on your handset.
We also saw a prototype Netflix app, which was a bit of an unexpected surprise (see the above video). Full Netflix streaming on a smartphone? Yes, please. Netflix seemed intent on referring to this application as just a "prototype," but it's clear the devs have laid the groundwork for a proper app when the time comes. Microsoft also demoed the Windows Phone 7 variation of Foursquare -- a pretty slick looking implementation. All of these apps feature the "app bar" at the bottom of the screen, which places options in the same place in every app. Foursquare is pretty much Foursquare, only integrated with Bing maps. The company then showed off Shazam, which works... exactly like Shazam, only with the Microsoft's polished WP7S Metro UI.
Joe also demoed an application called Hush Hush, which is a kind of digital diary that incorporates links, photos, and video along with text entries. The look and feel of the app is decidedly different than what we've seen in Windows Phone 7, taking a more real-world approach to the fit and finish, replete with page turn animations, serifed fonts, and soft, creamy looking simulated paper.
We also saw a demo of an MLS app, which was the main demo for push notifications. MLS will have live stats, real time scores, and live clips of games in progress. You can set up notifications within app for things like your favorite team scoring a goal or winning a match, and the notification pops down from the top of the screen. You can then click on the notification and it'll switch you back to the MLS app. Yeah, it's a lot like the iPhone's model with app-to-app switching -- we'll have to see how this works with multiple apps open.
One of the more... er, humorous applications shown off was something called Marionette, which lets you skin an avatar and dress it. To the delight of the crowd, the demo featured a South Park
-ish Steve Ballmer which was whipped around quite a bit. You can add audio clips to the on-screen characters and animate their mouths -- Terence and Philip-style. Used to great effect when they sped up and looped Ballmer shouting "developers." Pretty funny stuff.
We also had a glimpse of Seesmic for Windows Phone 7, which utilizes the same Silverlight code that runs on Windows and the Mac. Again, it's very similar to what you'd expect, just wrapped up in the WP7S UI.
In one of the more interesting (and though-provoking demos), we saw a function of what the platform can do with extensible applications that plug into the native components of the device. In this case, a photo editing extension that interfaces with the photo viewer on the device, allowing you to edit and tweak images within the gallery. Think plugins for Firefox and you'll be close to what these elements can do -- actually a thrilling concept considering how closed off most native smartphone applications feel comparatively.
After a quick demo of a custom app that fired a t-shirt cannon, Major Nelson took to the stage to demo some more gaming on the smartphones. He played with Goo Splat
for a second -- which was ported over from the Zune HD -- before opening Battle Punks to show XBL integration (he called the title a "virtual button masher" -- ha!). The Major also rehashed the demo we saw last week at GDC of the same title running across a PC, the 360, and then the phone.
In what was probably the most stirring demo of the event, however, Joe Belfiore showed off The Harvest
, a 3D Xbox title for Windows Phone 7 Series devices. We saw some of this game at GDC, but we got a much better look here at MIX. The game looks incredibly slick, with a Diablo-meets-Gundam feel, and not only does it feature full 3D, destructible environments, but it ties perfectly into Xbox Live, utilizing achievements and full gamerscore and leaderboard integration. We were a little blown away by how much it looks and feels like a true Xbox title. This could certainly be a game changer as far as the smartphone race is concerned -- bringing a comparable, connected Xbox experience to a mobile device will be incredibly enticing to end users, especially those already plugged into the company's gaming ecosystem.
Besides all the demos we had a chance to catch, Microsoft also handed out a list of current partners -- it's not staggering, but a healthy start:
- The Associated Press
- Archetype International
- AWS Convergence Technologies -- Weatherbug
- Citrix Systems
- Clarity Consulting
- Cypress Consulting
- EA Mobile
- frog design
- Glu Mobile
- Hudson Entertainment
- Larva Labs
- Matchbox Mobile
- Microsoft Game Studios
- Oberon Media
- PopCap Games
- Sling Media
- SPB Software
- TeleCommunications Systems
- Vertigo Software